I was up before my alarm as I have been doing lately but did not want to race. I had gone out to the bars in Milwaukee 2 nights ago, spent Friday eating bad over-processed food at a conference (the reason I was in Milwaukee), stayed up past midnight writing a letter last night and had generally been severely under eating for the last few days.
I was exhausted. I did not want to race. By the time I made it out to Black Earth I was feeling better. Here's what happened:
We went out and I pushed to the front, set myself a bit in front of the main pack and let myself slide into a pace not worrying about the guys passing me from behind. By the mile we were strung out and I was sitting in 5th coming through in 5:35 hardly breathing and feeling real smooth.
"Not bad" I thought.
The 2 mile came at 11:19 (5:44) and the 3 at 17:10 (5:51) .
By way of comparison I used to run high school 3 mile XC races in 5:30/11:00/16:45. So I feel I'm poised to make a move on my old pr of 16:29.
Anyway the 4 mile split was mumbled and what I thought I heard (22:24 - a 5:10) couldn't possibly have been right.
Since about mile 2, 6th place had been following me close enough for me to hear his footsteps. As a nice increase in confidence since high school having someone on my tail didn't bother me at all and I only looked back once about 400m from the finish. I tried to open a gap a few times but I haven't been doing any intervals so I couldn't sustain anything significant. With about 600m to go he made a move which I covered for about 200m but finally had to let him go and he put a good sized gap on me. Looking behind there was no one else in sight. I ran the last 2 miles in 11:47 (5:53 pace) and finished 6th with a 28:57 - just under 5:48 mile pace. A very even run.
Afterwards I ended up running back to the start with the winner and one of his friends who has also finished ahead of me. The winner had pr'ed with an impressive sub 26 performance and ran for Ohio State. His friend and old high school teammate ran for Loras University in Iowa and vaguely knew one of my teammates who graduated from there (Will Hoyer). It's cool that the people I'm losing to are on university teams - basically I'm only losing to the best.
All in all I got in about 9 miles in that day. I was an incredibly boring race though. 5 miles is the longest race (including runs in tri's) that I've done since I was a freshman. It kinda made me ambivalent about cross season. But my training has been fun so I'll go ahead with it anyway.
I called Arjun on the way home. We both agreed that I had had a very good run and was making steady progress back into my running. It seemed to us that I would soon be in the best cross shape of my life. However, we also agreed that as good as I'm doing I'm going to get my ass kicked when I race collegiate squads in the fall.
That night I came down with a summer cold complete with a fever (meaning I was already sick at the race). That and my schedule leading up the races lead me thing I could very soon be running in the lower 28's...